Audit watchdog in Wales calls for action to tackle governance failures

Audit watchdog in Wales calls for action to tackle governance failures

The Auditor General for Wales has called for public services in Wales to be streamlined in order to “escape from a spiral of short-term firefighting” and boost financial resilience.

In a statement responding to the Welsh Government’s draft 2024-25 budget earlier this month, the Auditor General, Adrian Crompton, said costs would be reduced by tackling failures in governance and financial management, as well as minimising loss to fraud and error.

Savings could also be found by addressing long-term workforce issues, accelerating the use of digital technology to drive service transformation and efficiencies, and shifting resources towards prevention to avoid higher costs in the future.

The auditor general also recommended “rigorously” appraising decisions for value for money backed up by effective monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.

The Welsh Government’s draft budget allocates £26.4bn, up from 25.2bn in 2023-24.

In light of the UK Government’s decision to provide a further £600m for local government in its budget, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans MS, recently announced a further £25m for Welsh local authorities.

The increases come amid warnings about local government finances in England and Wales.

In October of last year, Cardiff University published a report suggesting that council finances in Wales were on an “unsustainable” path and could face a £744m funding gap in two years’ time.

It also warned that although inflation might slow, spending was still likely to outstrip projected increases in funding, which could lead to service cuts.

Adrian Crompton said: “Tackling long-term issues such as inequality, demographic change and net zero is enormously challenging when purse-strings are so tight. But it must be done if public services are to escape from a spiral of short-term firefighting.

“Our work repeatedly identifies themes that, if addressed, can help the Welsh Government and public bodies get greater value from the more than £26 billion they spend, and build the public trust needed to underpin long-term, sustainable change.”

Adam Carey

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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